CHAPTER XIII. Calotte or Skull-Cap.
1. The skull-cap (called also calotte or zucchetto) is a small cap used by Catholic clergymen to cover the tonsure. It is called in Latin documents "pileolus."
Strictly speaking, it should not be of any other material than cloth in winter and silk in summer, for all ecclesiastics, even Regulars; but, in practice, the silk calotte is permitted throughout the year.
2. Every ecclesiastic may wear a calotte; it is not reserved solely for Prelates. However, a calotte of another color than black is not permitted to priests and ecclesiastics of lower rank, as it is one of the insignia of the Prelacy.
The red skull cap is one of the proper insignia of the Cardinalate, together with the red hat and the red biretta. And it is so exclusively reserved for Cardinals that the Pope, when granting, by special favor, to a Bishop the privilege of wearing a Cardinal's robes without making him a Cardinal, always excepts the use of the red skullcap. Moreover, Cardinals taken from Religious Orders, whatever be the color of their cassocks, are entitled to wear the scarlet zucchetto, as well as the red hat and the red biretta, these being the proper marks of their dignity.
3. By the Brief Ecclesiarum omnium (June 17, 1867,) Pope Pius IX. granted to all Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops, the privilege of wearing the purple calotte, as an exclusive sign of the episcopal dignity. (a)
Soon after the Brief of Pius IX. was published, tailors and hatters, in making calottes, went beyond the concession, and began to add extra ornaments that are not mentioned in the Pontifical document. According to the official sample fixed at the time of the concession, the episcopal calotte should be entirely purple, without any addition of red cords or of red stitchings; there should be no cords, while the stitchings should be purple. The lining is of red leather.
4. Before the appearance of Pope Pius X.'s motu propria "Inter multiplices" all Prelates not invested with the episcopal character, or at least Bishops-elect, were allowed to wear only a black skull-cap; but Roman etiquette permitted that the lining be red for the calotte of the Prelates di mantelletta, and purple for that of the Prelates di mantellone. Pius X., by the above-mentioned motu propria, granted to the Protonotaries Apostolic di numero, supernumerary and ad instar, a special skull-cap, black, with cords of amaranth red silk along the seams, and stitchings of the same color. By the same act, the other Prelates were conceded a like calotte, but with the said trimmings in purple.
5. The use of the calotte having been introduced for no other purpose than to cover the tonsure, in order to protect the head from cold, it follows that those who are not clerics are not entitled to wear this cap. For this reason, the custom of allowing sanctuary boys to wear the calotte has been frequently condemned by the Sacred Congregation of Rites.
6. The use of the calotte by Bishops is determined by the following rules: A Bishop is privileged to wear his skull-cap not only at home, but also in church, even when assisting at services and celebrating Mass. He always wears it under the mitre, in order to prevent the hair from soiling the inside of the mitre. (b)
When assisting at Mass in cope, he wears the calotte all the time, except during the consecration and elevation; (c) but, when assisting at Mass in choir habit (cappa magna, mozzetta or mantelletta) ,he removes his skull cap, also at the reading of the Gospel and when he is incensed. (d)
Bishops are privileged to wear the skull-cap while celebrating Mass, except from the Sanctus until after communion. In this case the Bishop's skull-cap is taken off his head (at Low Mass by one of his servers, at High Mass by one of the officers) after he has recited the Sanctus, and replaced after he has taken the ablutions.
On all other occasions, the Prelate himself should remove and put on his calotte.
The wearing of the skull-cap is never allowed in presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed; and Prelates are directed to remove the skull-cap every time they perform some external act of private devotion, as, for instance, kissing the crucifix or the relics of a saint. (e)
The same regulations hold good for Cardinals; but Cardinals alone have the privilege of wearing the skull-cap in presence of the Sovereign Pontiff; all other Prelates remain bareheaded in his presence in sign of obedience and respect, and even Cardinals, while bowing to him, remove their skull-caps.
7. The Pope makes use of a white skull-cap, similar in shape to that of other Prelates; but he has besides the privilege of wearing a cap special to him, called in Italian "camauro." The material for this cap is red velvet, with a border of ermine. During the octave of Easter, the red camauro is replaced by one of white damask. This cap has probably retained the primitive shape of the biretta. This would explain why the Pope does not make use of a biretta like other members of the Prelacy and clergy. (f)
(a) Leo XIII. made an exception to this rule when be conceded the use of the purple calotte to the Abbot of Solesmes and his successors forever.
(b) Caer em. Episc, passim.
(c) S. R. C„ June 14, 1845—Decemb. 5, 1848.
(d) S. R. C, May 20, 1890.
(e) A Bishop should not wear the skull-cap while Imparting the blessing with a relic of the True Cross.
(f) Cfr. the Interesting study of Mgr. A. Battandier in the "Annuaire Pontifical" for 1901, pages 76 et seq.